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Truly a Proxy War? Militias, Institutions and External Actors in Libya between Limited Statehood and Rentier State


Analyses of the Libyan conflict from the 2011 revolt onward have tended to define it as a ‘proxy war’, especially because of the relevant role played by foreign actors and their intermingling with various local factions. However, this definition does not stand up to closer examination and definitely does not fit with the specifics of the Libyan case. Through a combined analysis of the three theoretical concepts of ‘areas of limited statehood’ (ALS), ‘rentier state’ and ‘proxy war’, after an examination of the role played by militias, economic institutions and external actors in the conflict, it is argued that the classic concept of proxy war does not fully apply to the war in Libya.
Keywords: Libya; proxy war; limited statehood; rentier state; militias